Falcons keep high-scoring pace even without Julio Jones
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) The Atlanta Falcons can afford to be patient with Julio Jones' return from a sprained toe.
After all, there's no need to rush Jones' recovery after Atlanta topped 40 points in two straight lopsided wins without the star wide receiver.
These are heady times for the Falcons' offense, which already has obliterated the team's single-season scoring record with two games remaining in the regular season. The Falcons play at Carolina on Saturday.
Atlanta is the NFL's top-scoring team, and the race isn't even close. The Falcons (9-5) have 469 points, 63 more than the second-place Saints' 406.
Atlanta's players aren't saying much about the scoring record. They're focused on the more important race the for the NFC South title. Atlanta is one game ahead of Tampa Bay in the division.
''If we have to score three points or we have to score a lot of points, we just want to do our part in winning,'' right guard Chris Chester said Tuesday.
Jones watched from the sideline as the Falcons beat San Francisco 41-13 on Sunday to shatter the mark of 442 points set by the 1998 Super Bowl team. He also missed the previous week's 42-14 win at the Rams.
The Falcons' success has placed quarterback Matt Ryan in the MVP discussion. He has 32 touchdowns passes with only seven interceptions.
''For me, he's my MVP,'' running back Devonta Freeman said Tuesday.
Ryan has consistently distributed his passes to a large number of targets. Depth at receiver helped keep the offense moving even without Jones.
Aldrick Robinson led the team with a personal-best 111 yards receiving on four catches against the 49ers. Taylor Gabriel added three catches for 60 yards, including his team-leading sixth touchdown reception.
''It shows the depth that we have by having each other's back,'' said receiver Justin Hardy. ''If one guy goes down, another guy steps in and we don't miss a beat. It says a lot about the team and the character we have.''
The Falcons also have good depth at running back with Freeman, who ran for three touchdowns against the 49ers, and Tevin Coleman sharing the carries.
''I think definitely this year it has been fun to see so many people step up and make big plays and that's been a really exciting part of our offense,'' said center Alex Mack. ''It's not just one guy having a great season. It's a lot of guys doing a lot of good things all over the field a lot of times.''
Jones ran routes at the start of practice on Tuesday and is expected to give the toe a full-speed test on Wednesday.
NOTES: The team signed S Dashon Goldson for the second time this season. Goldson, 32, was a 2012 All-Pro with the 49ers who had 110 tackles in 15 starts with the Redskins in 2015. Goldson recorded only one special teams tackle in seven games with Atlanta at the start of the season. ... On Monday, WR J.D. McKissic was waived and WR B.J. Daniels was signed to the practice squad.
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